Monday, December 31, 2012


January - We started off the new year with Beth's cheerleading season and a fourth birthday for sweet little Carrie.

February - Five year old Matt started reading fluently. Little Beth turned seven and went off to her very first slumber party. Big Matt and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning making lots and lots of birthday cupcakes - decorated with kitties of course. My old van caught on fire during rush hour, totally freaked me out, and began our search for a replacement van.
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March - Big Matt got a promotion! It was several years in the making, and I was so proud. The kids enjoyed hunting Easter eggs at Carrie's preschool, although Katy bagged up quite a few rocks. Our spring garden really began to take off, and it was oh so pretty. We also made a trip into DC to see the Cherry Blossom trees.
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April - Mr. Matthew turned six! He had a birthday party at the base lake and park, and his daddy made him a Jeep cake. We celebrated Easter. Daddy had to work so the Easter bunny came early. I did take the kids to church by myself, and they did quite well. With the little girls getting bigger I started finding it easier to take the whole bunch out by myself. The kids and I enjoyed a week of Spring Break from public schools.
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May - May was an exciting event. The biggest event was the Andrews AFB air show. We live on Andrews and walked over all three days. Such fun! T-ball season (Matt) and baseball season (Beth) were in full swing. The kids also finished up their year of AWANAS. Beth was a second year Sparkie, Matt was a first year Sparkie, and Carrie was a first year Cubbie. We drove down to NC and enjoyed a ride on Grandpa's new boat. Finally we spent Memorial Day at Kerr Lake.
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June - Sweet baby Katy turned two! The kids had their final day of school. Beth and Carrie had their "Peter Pan" dance recital. It was too cute. And then we headed off to the Bahamas for a family reunion. The trip of a lifetime! I could write a whole page about the troubles we had getting there (dumb airlines!) but we arrived two days late and had a blast. We're so blessed. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

July - Happy 4th of July! This year we were able to watch the fireworks in DC for the first time. We then headed to Kerr Lake for the annual golf cart parade and potluck dinner. It was HOT. Like 115 degrees. We spent all weekend in the lake up to our neck like a family of turtles. The kids spent a week at VBS, and I helped teach the 5-6 year old kids. While home we went to the pool about every day. Beth passed the base swim test and was able to have free range of the pool for the first time. Photobucket Photobucket

August - The dog days of summer. More days at the pool, playing at home, and a trip to NC to see our relatives. After over a month of not being able to drive I finally got my new van. A 2011 Town & Country - very nice!

September - Back to school time for the Tyson kids! Carrie started preschool back up - three mornings a week in the four year old class. Beth and Matt started homeschooling this year, with Beth in second and Matt in first. They all three started AWANAS again, Beth and Matt began swim lessons (indoor), and soccer season kicked off. I coached little Matt's team again, but Beth aged up. We also took a pretty epic vacation through the VA mountains. Swimming and boating at Smith Mountain Lake, hiking in the Blue Ridge, touring historical sites, and venturing down into some caverns.
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October - Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday to Big Matt! Chester the bad bunny came to live with us.
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November - We went back to NC for Thanksgiving. It is sure nice being stationed so close to home. I celebrated my birthday, and Matt and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary. The kids finished their soccer season, and enjoyed several field trips. Homeschooling gives us so much time to travel. We even made it up to Hershey, PA.
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December - Merry Christmas! We enjoyed several parties and spent lots of time making crafts and baking. The kids of course went and saw Santa and they also sang in a Christmas program at church. The actual holiday was spent with their grandparents - such fun!
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

We're Moving!

We are moving off of the Air Force base. What am I going to do with myself? No Taps to put my babies to bed? We've lived in military housing for ten years straight. One Army house, three Air Force houses, and two Navy houses. I love living on base. Most of the time anyway. However, our BAH has gotten crazy high here in the DC area. It has gone up $800 in the last year and a half. The way housing works is that you pay them 100% of your BAH, whatever the amount happens to be. If you live off base you can spend less and pocket the difference, or pay more and pay out of pocket. We just really reached the point where our little duplex did not seem worth the full amount at all. Especially with the issues we've had with the base in general, the biggest being that they won't let my Coast Guard kiddos enroll in their on base PUBLIC Air Force school. Even though we have really come to enjoy homeschooling that just really rubs me the wrong way.

Yesterday we went and toured a little rental  home about thirty minutes away. I loved it before we even pulled up to the address. I loved the drive out of the city, all the farms we passed, the little town along the Chesapeake, and the quiet neighborhood. When we did arrive, I found the home was so much nicer and more spacious than I had expected. It has three BIG bedrooms, as well as a nice fenced yard and deck. And it is just a block from the bay!

We don't have anything in writing yet, but have come to kind of a verbal agreement. If everyone goes as planned we should be headed to the new house in February. I'm sad to be going, but yet happy to make a fresh start. It feels like best next step for our family. It's a two year lease, which is how long we have left in DC. We can always run back to the comfort zone of the military base after that if we want.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Colin Powell

The kids and I had the pleasure of meeting General Colin Powell this morning. We were #5 in line and waited two hours for his arrival. In the interest of time, the book signing staff said no pictures, no handshakes, no personalizations, no ...nothing. Just have your book ready, get your signature, and go. When we walked up little Matt Matt held out his hand and said "Hello General, my name is Matthew Tyson." General Powell said "Give me those kids" and asked if I had my camera. Just a very nice man. A friend of mine even got a picture of him kissing her baby. Photobucket

Here is what we looked like waiting in line. The people in line near me seemed shocked that I expected the kids to stand there two hours. Or maybe they were just sorry they had to wait next to two year old Katy, lol. I was thinking....My kids have been raised on military bases. This is what we do. We go places and we wait. And then we wait some more. Two hours in a heated building? Please. The big ones sat on the floor and did their English and Math and Katy colored in her Elmo book. Miss Carrie was in preschool during this particular adventure.


Friday, December 14, 2012

What a Day....

Like most people, my day was interrupted by the horrible news coming out of Connecticut. Connecticut was our home for about five years, although we lived about an hour and a half from Newtown. Regardless of location, the whole event is just unfathomable. These were children. And educators. When I heard the news I just cried. And then I thought of how my husband I stayed up late last night to lovingly wrap the presents we had bought for our children and place them under our tree. How many parents in Connecticut did the same? And now their little ones won't be there this Christmas.

I felt the need to just spend the rest of the day enjoying my family. We cuddled up with a movie and then Beth and Matt made these Rice Krispie treat houses. I'm not sure if they look like houses at all, but the kids had fun. The kids did hear the news, and I've struggled with what to tell them. There just is no explanation. They have been raised on military bases, so they are no stranger to loss, but this is different.

Give your kids an extra hug tonight, I know I will be doing just that.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Air & Space Museum

I braved the DC driving once more this morning in order to take my kids to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. A weekday morning turned out to be a great time to go, as we practically had the place to ourselves. We met up with two other homeschool families and even had a tour guide to show us around. Being able to go and see things that most people only read about is the single best thing about being stationed in this area. Sometimes I think it is the ONLY good thing about being stationed in this area, but in any case it is pretty awesome.

We spent a good amount of time learning about the Wright brothers and their first flight. We were amazed to find out that there were only sixty-six years in between the Wright's first manned flight and the flight that landed Americans on the moon. person's lifetime! Not to mention, we went from gliders to commercial aircraft in an even shorter time. I talked to the kids about perseverance. The Wrights did not succeed at first, despite pouring their hopes, dreams, and so much hard work into their design. They just kept it at it though, and in the end they made history.

Next we learned about Charles Lindbergh and the "The Spirit of St. Louis." He had so much fuel on board for his crossing off the Atlantic that he had no room for a windshield. His only way to look outside was to raise a periscope he had specially designed. What a brave man!
Amelia Earhart's plane was also on display, and we talked a little about her accomplishments and the mystery of her disappearance. Apparently there have been some new findings, and a research team is going to an island in 2013 to look for the wreckage of her lost plane. Photobucket

My little ladies (and my big kids too!) especially enjoyed the hands on area where they could learn a little about the mechanics of flight. Once again, we practically had the place to ourselves!
We finished our field trip by learning about space travel. I even bought the kids some astronaut ice cream to try out. It was not that good. They enjoyed learning about the first chimpanzee to enter space, and felt very sorry for him as his banana pellets were not delivered as scheduled on the flight. Following his big adventure he came to DC and lived out his life in the National Zoo.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Concert

Beth and Matt sang in the Christmas service at church today. They actually sang in all three services - at 9, 11, and 5. Being the crazy doting mother I am, I attended all three. The kids were all super cute. It was just a really good program in general, complete with singing, an orchestra, a hand bell choir, and a skit. Not to mention the delicious cookies and punch that followed. Now if this crazy weather would just cool down a bit I would REALLY feel like the Christmas season has arrived. I guess cool weather or not I better get on the ball. The decorations are all up, and I've done most of the kids' shopping. I haven't done any wrapping though, and I still need to shop for our other relatives. My wonderful MOPS groups is hosting a party for the kids tomorrow afternoon (for three full hours!) so I am going to try to squeeze in as much Christmas shopping as I can during that time. Maybe even some wrapping.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Busy Saturday

Wow, I feel like I have been out and about all day long. I started my morning with a trip to the children's hospital a few towns over. My friend's little boy has been admitted for a few days. He's only five months old and has had a rough start so far. His mom is hoping he can come home tomorrow though, so that is something to look forward to. It makes me thankful for my healthy kids. We really haven't had even a bad virus in quite some time. *knock on wood*

Within minutes of me returning from the hospital we were on our way to a Christmas party for military kids. It was really a lot of fun. The organization putting it on had tables and tables full of small toys in all categories. The kids were each given a bag to pick ten. I'm sure to a kid it was just like getting to set foot in Santa's workshop itself. And in fact Santa was there for them to visit with!

Following the Christmas party we came home for just a short while to get ready for our trip into DC. It was USO/military night at the National Zoo. They are currently doing their "Zoo Lights" where the whole zoo is decorated and lit up in the evenings. We live a stone's throw outside of DC, so I foolishly left for this event (which began at 5pm) at 4:45. After snaking all through the city we finally arrived about an hour and a half later. My GPS looked like this, and I thought about crying. City traffic can just get to be too much for me. There were no traffic circles or one way streets back home! No parallel parking either..

So we finally got to the zoo, but the police were blocking off the entrances, as the parking had long since filled up. I opened my door right in the middle of the street (Matt was driving) and yelled for the kids to get out quickly. I got everyone on the sidewalk, Matt pulled off, and then I remembered my cell phone was still in the car with him. There were thousands of people there so I was not going to ever find him without it, so I took off running down the street after him. I heard a policeman yell for me to wait twice, then just sort of sigh and move onto something else. I did in fact catch him and recover the phone. That was a close one! He found parking maybe a mile away and met us at the zoo a short time later.

The lights were really awesome. The zoo was ridiculously crowded, but the kids had a good time and did a good job of staying with us. Carrie you can see had a hot chocolate incident.

And here they are with their handsome daddy. Everyone liked this big blue tree. It was huge in person.

Carrie is the queen of pandas, so she was very excited about all the panda decor. DC is one of only a few zoos in the country with pandas.

Beth, Matt, and Carrie got to do a little tubing. The USO gave us some free passes. I am so thankful to the USO. It costs a crazy amount to live in this area, and their free functions really give the kids something to look forward to.

Katy was too little to get on the tubes (maybe next year) but she was very pleased with the petting zoo.
We ended our night with the long trek back to the car. It was a lot of fun walking through the city. Their were two men playing Christmas music on saxophones on one of the corners, and I gave the kids a few dollars to put into their hat. They had never seen that before and really loved the street music. He played "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" for them - can't beat that! All the storefronts were beautifully decorated as well. And the apartments all look so old and massive - but still beautifully maintained. It's just a cool part of DC. On the way home we passed the White House and drove through Chinatown. The kids had their faces glued to the windows, and Matt and I were pretty much feeling the same way. I guess living in the city does have it's perks.

Friday, December 7, 2012

No More Preschool

I had to pull Carrie out of preschool this week. I hated it, but the traffic to get to the school has just become insane. Welcome to DC I guess... I just feel like it's not fair for my other three kids to spend 2+ hours three mornings a week driving to and from preschool. Before you think I'm totally crazy, let me point out that the school is all of about fifteen miles away. Lately though it is always something...road work, a wreck, rain causing unusual congestion. You have to put in two weeks notice, so she will get to finish the rest of December and go to the Christmas party and bowling field trip. I'm glad for that anyway. I'm sure I can handle a few more weeks of traffic for my baby girl. If she was my old child I would have no issues with her staying the whole year. It's hard with four though. Some days it feels like a constant struggle to balance everyone's needs. I'm still learning what I can and can't pull off.

So now I get to add another little one to my homeschool. Carrie was already joining us for a little work now and then, but with her being home full time I'd like to do more. She'll be five in January, and I know at this age Beth and Matt were really doing kindergarten level work. I don't see Carrie being ready for all that though. I'm thinking more along the lines of a "letter of the week" program and some extra crafts. Katy is 2 1/2 and she will probably be able to join in.

This is Carrie...she does tricks. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Computer

This blog has given me so much trouble, but now that my husband has pieced together a new computer I am going to try again.

All is going well here in the Tyson household. We are finishing up our first semester of homeschooling and preparing for the holidays. Homeschooling is going okay. I have a  bad habit of canceling school when the weather is nice. Or when I can think of something better to do. And trust me....there is almost always something better to do here in DC. I am the queen of field trips. Perhaps I will be more on task after Christmas. Somehow I doubt it, but we'll see. The kids are both excellent readers, and I do math with them most days, so that's something. They also learned the Morse code and a little Latin this semester. And we spent countless hours out in nature as well as exploring our nation's capitol. Precious times.

We finally bought a new van, which is what has enabled me to take them here, there, and everywhere. It's nice, but that car payment is a killer. It makes me miss my old (long since paid off) van. Sometimes I feel like I should go back to work and help out, but I just feel so strongly that I am needed here at home right now. Back to clipping the coupons I guess! Being a stay at home mom is not always easy. I'm not one of those super crafty, make everything from scratch, and sell things on etsy type moms either. I'm happy with the kids are clean and safe, fed, the house is reasonably clean, and I got everyone to where they needed to go. And that seems like a very big task most days.

Katy is still quite the two year old tornado, but she is talking now, so that has been fun. Next on the horizon: potty training! She is showing zero interest, but one day soon she'll get there, right? I'm kind of excited that once she is trained that is IT. No more diapers unless I'm babysitting or working in the church nursery or something. I've had little ones in diapers for almost eight years straight...and a lot of those years had more than one in them. Santa Claus is bringing her a little tricycle this year, and I just can't believe how fast she is growing up.

Caroline is coming up on five! My insurance has yet to pick up her speech therapy, and I can't understand much of anything she says. Frustrating...for both of us I'm sure. The school system here is terrible, and it leaves me wondering if we should move so she can get services through the public schools next year. However, our insurance SHOULD pick up her private therapy, it's just being a pain. We've been working on this since she was two. First she was delayed, but not delayed enough, and now it's just a matter of red tape. I am on the case though! Other than that she is doing very well. We do have her in her on base preschool again this year, and she has made lots of friends and really enjoys it. She also takes dance lessons and is one cute little ballerina. When she's at home she enjoys digging holes in the yard. A new kid moved in across the street who also enjoys digging holes in the yard - a match made in heaven I tell you!

Matt Matt is 6 1/2 and is all boy. He's into cars, Nerf guns, and GI Joes. He is also the sweetest of my kids, and the first to help with his little sisters. He's just a lover. He's learning his times tables and doing second grade English, but he just wants to finish as quick as he can and head outside. He dislikes shoes and coats...and yes it is winter. This boy apparently has some redneck in him even though he was born way up in Connecticut.

My Beth girl is almost eight. Wow! She reads everything she can get her hands on and loves animals and art. I got her a pet bunny and mouse this year. Unfortunately after about six months with the mouse one of the little girls squeezed it too tight and it died. It was a pretty sad day here...she cried and cried, and so did I. I guess we will hold off on more tiny animals until everyone is over five. The bunny on the other hand is doing quite well. He's a bit of a jerk...I am not sure they are good pets at all. Beth loves him though, and so I have no doubt I am stuck with him for the next ten years! I got him fixed, so he doesn't bite us anymore, but he has eaten four holes in my carpet. Ugh. He hops in Beth's lap and lets her read to him, so she will defend him to the end I think.

Here are my little turkeys. Beth, Matt, and Carrie went to a USO party for children....the highlight of their year I think. And Katy is trying out my first attempt at cake pops - they were good!